Is It Really 6X Better?
By Joe Farace
Any tripod can be a three-legged friend that has the simple job of holding your camera steady. How it accomplishes that task is a matter of personal preference, design, and price. A good tripod has basic requirements: It must be sturdy enough to support your camera yet light enough for you to be willing to take it along and use it! The Gitzo Mountaineer Reporter is part of a new family of Carbon 6X tripods that reduces overall weight by up to 17%.
All Carbon 6X tripods and monopods use a six-crossed multilayer tube that’s 30 percent lighter without sacrificing strength and stability. Part of the weight reduction of Gitzo’s 6X tripod legs comes from making the standard 1.5mm carbon fiber tube thinner. Using a six-layer construction, Gitzo proclaims the tubes now are 1mm thick but are equally as strong and as stable as their 1.5mm three-layer carbon fiber tubes. Mountaineer 6X tripods are constructed using a screw thread and adhesive dual jointing technology called Hybrid Interconnecting System (HIS) for increased ruggedness and durability. In real world use, the Mountaineer Reporter held up as well as, if not better than, metal or other carbon fiber tripods I’ve used, and having to schlep less weight around is a plus.
The tripods add an Anti-Leg Rotation (ALR) system that allows for fast and smooth setup. Gone are the days of fighting to unlock the legs and get them extended. This new system lets you loosen all twist locks at the same time and pull down the leg before tightening them. Bogen claims a setup time of fifteen seconds for a five-section tripod and my three-section Mountaineer Reporter set up even faster on a cold night. As a bonus, carbon fiber is a much better insulator that metal, so I didn’t even need gloves!
A good tripod must not only be steady to allow long exposures like this one, but the support should stay where you place it so that bracketed images can be combined and remain in register. This nighttime photograph of the Brighton, Colorado City hall is a combination of two exposures: The first (that covers everything from right of the large tree on the leading side) was 8 seconds at f/13, ISO 200. The second was made for 2.5 seconds because the tree and city hall sign were too overexposed. The camera was a Canon EOS 1D Mark II. The two images were combined in Adobe Photoshop CS2 with a simple cut and paste operation. The only other tweaking of the image was a little burning of the light streaks created by traffic. © 2005 Joe Farace
The tripod’s top castings are corrosion resistant, with polished stainless casting bolts for stability. A built-in, spring-loaded retractable hook on the bottom of the center column provides a place to hang a counterweight and won’t get caught while carrying or packing like the fixed hooks on other Gitzo tripods. All Mountaineer tripods are fitted with an anti-rotation grooved center column for increased solidity and are reinforced at the top for increased durability. The legs are tipped with removable rubber feet that are interchangeable with Gitzo’s universal accessories such as the “big foot” series or spikes.
Like most high-end tripods, the Mountaineer Reporter is delivered sans head. You can always use your favorite Gitzo, Manfrotto, or Arca-Swiss head, but I requested the tripod be delivered with one of the two pan/tilt heads Bogen recommends for it. The full list includes six Gitzo heads, but only two are pan/tilt, and the rest are ball heads. OK, I’ll confess, it’s old school to prefer a pan/tilt head, but there’s nothing old school about the G2270M ($239.95) head. It uses a low profile magnesium design and is designed to carry a maximum load of up to 12 pounds. The G2270M includes two spirit levels to ensure that the head (and your shot) is level.
Image, left: The Gitzo G2270M is part of a series of three low-profile Rationelle heads that use a built-in fluid system, making them also useful for bird watching and mini DV cameras.
Unlike previous Gitzo heads I’ve used, this one features ergonomically designed pan and tilt handles with triangular shaped rubber grips. The handles can be positioned on either the right or the left hand side of the head for southpaws. When shooting vertical images, the G2270M’s mounting plate spots anti-rotation pins that ensure the camera remains stable. The pins are stored in pre-drilled holes under the head when not in use. A large hexagonal locking screw makes it relatively easy to attach and remove equipment. If you need a QR, the $249.95 G2272M model has a quick-release locking system for just $10 more.
The Carbon 6X Mountaineer Reporter tripod I tested is a great choice for digital SLR, 35mm, and medium format cameras. One of the characteristics that I always liked about all Gitzo tripods is that they are build to a standard, not a price point. The 6X Mountaineer Reporter is the best tripod I’ve used in a long, long time. Is it really 6X better? Yes, it is.
Finish: Gray & Black Enamel
Material: Carbon Fiber 6X
Column Type: Rapid
Maximum Height with extended center column: 63.4 inches
Maximum Height: 54.1 in
Minimum Height: 13.2 in
Closed Length: 26 in
Leg Sections: 3
Foot Type: Rubber Foot: Removable
Maximum Load Capacity: 17.6 lbs
Head Mount: 1/4-20 and 3/8" reversible stud
Weight: 3.1 lbs
Price w/o head: $ 484.95